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COVID-19 risks to entrepreneurs are real - but mentee Ntombi steps up to the plate with family-friendly masks

26 Jun 2020

We're in this together

The Futuregrowth Power Debt Fund is invested in 29 renewable energy projects, more than 60% of which are situated in the Northern Cape, a particularly impoverished province. The Noupoort Wind Farm, developed and operated by Mainstream South Africa, is one of these.

We’re in this together.
Extraordinary times require an extraordinary response. Our people and partners have responded by dedicating time and resources to various initiatives. This is how our Power Fund beneficiary has stepped up with masks to protect households during the COVID-19 crisis.

A pre-requisite for bids submitted by independent power producers is that they must show how their project will deliver social and economic development for the communities in which those projects are located. Only those with acceptable social and economic plans may advance to have their projects judged on feasibility and price. As a result, millions have been invested in socio-economic programmes in rural areas where the projects are located, which has made a real difference in the lives of the poor and marginalised.

One such programme is the Noupoort Wind Farm enterprise acceleration programme, to which any local business or individual may apply for support to start or grow their enterprise. Noupoort resident, Martha Ntombi Mosoane, did just this.

Ntombi’s journey

Ntombi came across her sewing machine on a dump site in 2016. Realising its value, she retrieved it and started using it to do clothing alterations for her local community. Her next step was to launch Mosoane Fashions, a sewing business making traditional clothing, school uniforms, choir and church attire, as well as modern fashions.

Ntombi had no training or business experience, so when the chance to join Noupoort Wind Farm’s enterprise acceleration programme came about, she seized the opportunity. Through the programme, she attended Pretoria’s School of Hat Making in 2017 and subsequently added beautiful upcycled handbags to her repertoire. The ongoing mentorship she received through the programme, coupled with her creative flare and drive, has enabled her to sell her wares as far afield as the outlying areas of De Aar, Colesburg, Hanover, Middelburg and Kimberley. She now employs others from within her community - a direct result of her business’s growing turnover.

“South Africa needs entrepreneurs if we are going to achieve the economic growth we need and Ntombi depicts the required characteristics, which is why we have selected to support her enterprise through our local economic development programmes. She is goal focused, confident, creative, determined, and a self-starter, making her the ideal small business owner,” explained Economic Development Manager for Noupoort Wind Farm, Sandisiwe Mntonintshi.

The pivot

With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Ntombi decided to join South Africa’s drive against COVID-19 by switching her production to personal hygiene masks, answering the call from the Department of Small Business Development for new manufacturers of protective wear. With the help of the Noupoort programme, she has registered on the government’s Central Supplier Database as an official supplier, and received advice and technical support in sourcing raw materials and meeting compliance standards.

Ntombi’s masks, which are made from tight-weave cloth and are heat-treated before packaging, have been designed to restrict the spread of the coronavirus between family members in the home and are washable as per the World Health Organisation recommendations. She is making up to 250 family-friendly protective masks a day from her rural Northern Cape workshop, with plans to expand this to four times as many units as soon as she can access more materials – which will create additional jobs in her community.


  • Stakeholder engagements are an integral part of all Noupoort’s community project interventions and, although migration to virtual meetings during the lockdown was not without its challenges, these have taken place in order to collaborate on the way forward.
  •  Virtual meetings have been held with training providers such as Think Twice to arrange for programmes to be extended after the lockdown period;
  • After discussions about assistance for learners during the lockdown, it was decided that child-friendly food parcels would be distributed to all 91 children who attend aftercare at the schools in the region;
  • Monthly meetings have been held to discuss the readiness of programmes for re-opening in accordance with the regulations and to provide updates; and
  • Social relief have been arranged in the form of food parcels distributed to 200 recipients on the list from the Department of Social Development.

For further information, please read the following articles:

  1. Noupoort Wind Farm
  2. Food and hygiene parcels delivered in covid-19 relief effort
  3. Call for renewable energy to power COVID-19 recovery

READ: COVID-19 risks to food security are real